POST Offices are being wiped out, depriving the public of a vital service, leaders of the Communications Workers’ Union and the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters warned yesterday.
They made the warning following the news that the government plans to scrap the computerised Post Office Card accounts of four million people, who were forced into the electronic scheme when the government got rid of giro cheques and pension books.
The Post Office Card Account contract runs out in 2010 and the Department for Work and Pensions has decided not to renew it, forcing elderly and vulnerable people to go to private banks for their pensions and benefits payments.
In addition, passport processing is to be moved out of post offices and the Department for Transport has set up a scheme to renew car tax online.
Colin Baker, general secretary of the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters, warned: ‘I believe this will close thousands of post offices and restrict people’s choice – a choice they fought to preserve.’
‘I’m very concerned,’ said John Denton, London Regional Secretary of the CWU.
Denton told News Line: ‘It is a continuing theme with this government, whenever they can do things which will damage public services and put money in the pockets of private industry, they will do it.’
Denton added: ‘We have several thousand members working in Crown Post Offices.
‘We’re very worried that the Crown Post Office network has been cut by more than two thirds already over the past 15 years.
‘But what we’re seeing now is the remaining Crown Offices being franchised out to companies, who, frankly, no one else has ever heard of – companies with names such as Supertex and Primeco.
‘They seem to fulfil all the criteria the Post Office now want to run a service, i.e. they’re cheap.’
‘These companies are buying the buildings so they can redevelop the sites.
‘As a personal example: I went to the franchised post office in Wood Street in the City of London and the whole of the site had been demolished and had been redeveloped.
‘There’s no alternative provision in that area whatsoever.’